The book of Galatians, written around 54 A.D., which is about 5 years after the Jerusalem Conference where circumcision was officially abolished, is often used by mainstreamers to try to prove that all Old Testament law keeping has been done away with. However, the circumcision word repeatedly appears throughout Galatians a total of 15 times showing that the now abolished law discussed by Paul refers overwhelmingly to circumcision, not to the entire set of OT laws. Even one single, clear reference to tithing, unclean meats, the Sabbath, or a festival is conspicuously absent in Galatians.
Galatians 2:16: “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ ……..that we might be justified by faith in Christ …….”
James 2:24 says “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” which means that obedience to Biblical laws is still a part of salvation. Galatians 2:16 involves a discussion by Paul simply explaining that “works” or keeping the Mosaic laws no longer BY ITSELF “justifies” Christians, which means to be righteous in God’s sight. Some false teachers in Galatia had previously tried to deceive church members in the local churches by insisting that keeping the Mosaic laws and circumcision were THE ONLY requirements needed for salvation, and that faith in Jesus Christ was not needed. In the final analysis the concept of “justification” is merely an abstract, intellectual observation that by itself does not clearly and conclusively, beyond reasonable doubt, indicate that a particular law or set of laws should be mandatorily observed, or not observed. Therefore verse 16 is not clear, beyond reasonable doubt proof that the remaining Old Testament laws that have not been singled out as abolished, have been annulled. Please visit gnmagazine.org/booklets/NC/NC and scroll down to pages 144-145 and read “Confusion Over Legalism: What It Is and Isn’t.”
Galatians 2:19: “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.”
Over 80 other NT verses assert that the “law” must still be obeyed. This over generalized verse then cannot refer to all OT laws, and Biblically knowledgeable Christians must deduct, discern, and figure out which law is being referred to here. Other verses show that parts of the OT law must still be obeyed, such as 2 Corinthians 6:17 (don’t even touch the Levitically unclean, which by obvious implication means don’t eat forbidden food), 1 Corinthians 5:8 (let us keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread), etc. So what specific law was Paul probably referring to in verse 19? The circumcised, uncircumcised, or circumcision word appears 6 times in the somewhat short chapter of Galatians 2, which is an unusually large number of times. Repeatedly referring to circumcision 6 times is not a small clue. It is a substantial clue that the former law of circumcision is the law and the only law Paul is discussing. Therefore circumcision definitely is the most logical law Paul is pointing to, which was abolished at the meeting in Jerusalem in Acts 15. Therefore verse 19 cannot be clear proof, beyond reasonable doubt, that all OT law keeping has been annulled. Christians must use logic and common sense to understand over generalized verses. They must not yield to possibly incorrect interpretations simply because the majority teaches them and pressures people to accept them, too.
GALATIANS 3:2,5,6,7: “…… Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?- 6 just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ 7 Therefore know that ONLY those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”
The Greek for “works of the law” implies doing something primarily actively and physically, not passively, to obey the law such as giving sacrifices or performing circumcision, both of which had already been abolished or were in the process of becoming abolished (the sacrifices). In verse 7 the word “only” was added by translators. Paul is emphasizing (for the benefit of hard core Jews and others insisting that circumcision must still be observed) in the above verses that it is not only by keeping the whole law (previously requiring also circumcision and sacrifices) by which Christians can now obtain the Holy Spirit, but also by faith. Remember, this book of Galatians primarily refers to the now annulled law of circumcision. Remember also that Acts 2:38 demands law observance to receive the Holy Spirit, with the exception of the now abolished circumcision and sacrifice laws.
GALATIANS 3:10,13 DOES NOT SAY THE LAW IS A CURSE, BUT THAT BREAKING IT CAN INCUR A CURSE, WHICH IS DEATH.
GALATIANS 3:10,13: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ …… 13 Christ has REDEEMED us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.)” — NKJV
A related OT verse helps explain what the curse is in Galatians 3:10-13. Hosea 13:14: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will REDEEM them from death ……” Jesus Christ, Who is the God of the OT, said that He will redeem the righteous from death, which is the curse of the law. It is death that is the curse.
To understand these verses the context must be recognized by reading Galatians 3:10-12: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who DOES NOT continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’ 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but the man who does them shall live by them.” Verse 13 DOES NOT say that Christ redeemed us from the law, but rather from the curse (referring to the penalty for law disobedience which can even be death) of the law. “Us” is referring to converted, law obeying Christians. Verse 13 also does not state or even imply that there is no need to continue observing the law. In addition, verse 13 does not say that a curse is imposed on those who obey the law. You cannot say that the law itself is now a curse after Paul himself in Romans 7:12 said that the “law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” He also said that it is the doers of the law, not the hearers, who are justified in Romans 2:13.
Analyzing verse 10 even more closely, it says “For as many as are OF the works of the law are under the curse; ……” The original Greek for OF is ek, Strong’s number 1537. Ek can be used figuratively as well as literally, and remotely as well as directly. Thayer includes “out of” and “away from” as translations of ek. “Off” and “out from” also are other translations of ek according to the Strong’s concordance. The JP Green Literal Translation of verse 10 is rendered as follows: Galatians 3:10: “For as many as are OUT OF works of Law, these are under a curse. For it has been written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the things having been written in the book of the Law, to do them. Deut. 27:26.” Green’s translation is more logical and understandable since it seems to indicate “being away from” or possibly “failing to be a part of” law keeping,” which is more consistent with the context of verses 10-13, speculating. For additional study please visit http://www.ucg.org/booklet/new-covenant-does-it-abolish-gods-law/circumcision-vs-new-creation-christ/curse-law/. Another great site is http://rcg.org/articles/acfftoc.html (read especially the middle part of the page).
GALATIANS 3:19,24,25 SHOWS THE SACRIFICES ARE ABOLISHED, NOT THE WHOLE LAW.
Galatians 3:19: “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made ……..”
The word “transgressions” in this verse automatically proves that some set of divine laws was violated, laws that must have been pre-existing. If there were no laws previously, then transgressions could not have occurred. There is ample evidence that the 10 Commandments, which contained the Saturday Sabbath, the dietary laws [Genesis 7:1,2,8, 8:20], and the tithing law [Genesis 14:20], for some examples, were in full force before the Mosaic laws were formally codified. Read ALL 10 COMMANDMENTS WERE IN FORCE BEFORE MOSES to see some of that evidence. Therefore these PRE-EXISTING laws as well as the 10 Commandments and other laws could not possibly have been the laws abolished since only the ADDED laws became annulled after the sacrificial death of Jesus (“till the Seed should come”). Paul, the author of this verse, is logically talking about temporary offerings and sacrifice laws ADDED at Mount Sinai to teach the people obedience. Jeremiah 7:22 shows that these sacrifice laws did not previously exist when the Israelites first left Egypt. Hebrews 9:8-13 and 10:1 give the clues about which laws were added then removed. Those verses discuss the offerings and sacrifice laws with their rituals, which SPECIFICALLY PINPOINTS the offerings and sacrifice laws as the laws that were added then removed, because verse 10: “….. imposed until the time of reformation” reveals that those laws would be removed and when they would be removed which was also explained in the above Galatians 3:19: “….. till the Seed should come.” Hebrews 9:8-11: “The Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was (still) standing. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience- 10 concerned only with foods and drinks (food and drink offerings), various washings (purification rites), (and) fleshly ordinances IMPOSED UNTIL THE TIME OF REFORMATION. 11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come ……..” The word “reformation” refers to the arrival and sacrificial death of Jesus. The sacrificial and ceremonial laws of washings, purification rites and similar physical ordinances were most logically the things that ended when Jesus died, not other Mosaic laws. Since the Mosaic dietary, festival, tithing, Saturday Sabbath, and many other civil and moral laws such as the prohibition against removing property landmarks, bestiality, bribery, gossip, etc. are not laws involving offerings and sacrifices, they logically could not have been the laws that were added then nullified after the death of Jesus. So those laws, part of the pre-existing laws that were formally codified at the same time that the offerings and sacrifice laws were added, must still be in force. For additional study please read the bottom half of http://www.ucg.org/booklet/new-covenant-does-it-abolish-gods-law/circumcision-vs-new-creation-christ/.
Galatians 3:24,25: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” — NKJV
In all probability the particular “law” referred to here is the same law discussed in nearby Galatians 3:19, only 5 verses away, which were the temporary laws involving sacrifices and offerings that ended after the death of Jesus. Hebrews 9:10, shown above, is additional evidence that the laws that were added then abolished were only the sacrifice and offerings laws, not other laws such as the Ten Commandments, tithing, dietary, festival, and others. The Greek word for “schoolmaster” is paidagogos, 3807. This special word is used in the NT only 3 times, and according to Strong it basically means “guardian” or “disciplinarian,” definitely NOT “teacher” or “instructor,” which is a distinct and huge difference. Verse 25 therefore does not say that we are no longer under a teacher of the law or no longer under what the law says or teaches, but rather that we are no longer under the penalty, punishment, or disciplinary part (potentially death for disobedience) of the OT offerings and sacrifice laws, (the “disciplinarian” or “guardian”). Disciplinarians chastise, penalize, and punish people for breaking rules, like the expensive animal sacrifices in the past punished people for sinning. Please also visit http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/holy-bible/old-testament/the-pentateuch/ then scroll down to Leviticus, then down to “Sacrificial system” for further reading.
Galatians 4:3,8,9,10,11: “…… when we were …… in bondage under the elements of the world …… 8 But then, indeed, when you DID NOT KNOW God, you served THOSE WHICH BY NATURE ARE NOT GODS. 9 But now AFTER you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.”
If you think that “the elements of the world” or “the weak and beggarly elements” refer to the Old Testament laws, then not only just a “red flag” should appear, but an “almost blindingly bright, pulsating, red flare” should go up after reading the words “BUT NOW AFTER YOU HAVE KNOWN GOD …… ” Note the pivotally important word “AFTER.” THE PRIOR AWARENESS AND PRACTICE OF Old Testament laws make you KNOWLEDGEABLE AND FAMILIAR WITH GOD, NOT UNKNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT GOD. Verse 9 strongly implies that the weak and beggarly elements were something that PRECEDED substantial knowledge of God that would in turn involve knowledge of OT laws and rules. The knowledge and practice of Old Testament laws are totally impossible without “knowing God.” Therefore the weak and beggarly elements CANNOT be the Old Testament laws since they preceded “knowing God.” The “weak and beggarly elements” is just a different description of idolatrous paganism described in the preceding verse 8 as serving “those which by nature are not gods.” Verse 8 conclusively reinforces the point that verse 9′s “weak and beggarly elements” cannot be OT laws because those laws DO “serve those which by nature ARE gods, or, in reality, involves serving one true God. Nothing, absolutely nothing in “days and months and seasons and years” clearly, beyond reasonable doubt, identifies these as God’s holy days. Remember, the context of these verses involves a pagan belief system PRECEDING “knowledge of God.” Old Testament festivals (God’s holy days) REQUIRE “knowledge of God.” The Galatian Christians were Gentiles returning to what they had come from (verse 9). They were going back to pagan, astrology like observances. God nowhere in the Bible made any months holy, and He condemned the observance of “times” in Deuteronomy 18:10, so Galatians 4:10 could not refer to Biblical festivals and Holy Days. Verses 8 and 9 of Galatians 4 refer to the practices of the Galatians before they knew the laws in the OT. Then they are shown to be going back to the “weak and beggarly elements.” To say that God’s OT laws are “weak and beggarly” is ridiculous also because that contradicts many verses saying that those laws are very good and even holy. These “days and months and seasons [times] and years” were man made pagan practices, which could have been similar to astrology today.
Galatians 4:21-31: “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? …… 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia …… 26 but the Jerusalem above is free which is the mother of us all…… 31 …… we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.”
The law most likely by far that Paul is referring to in verse 21 is the previous command to be circumcised since that is the main law discussed in Galatians and since Galatians 5:2-6 concludes the illustration of the bondwoman and the free using the circumcision word repeatedly. The Mosaic laws are separate from the Old Covenant, and the 2 covenants mentioned above are merely a comparison of what has been abolished and what is still valid. Circumcision is repeatedly mentioned in the previous Galatians chapters, so that is the law most logically being referred to here. The Sabbath, the holy festivals, and the food laws are never mentioned in those chapters, just circumcision, mentioned over 6 times. Verse 21 is addressed to those who refuse to accept faith that the sacrificial death of Jesus will save them from their sins. They want their obedience to the complete, original law (that contained the now abolished, enslaving, burdensome sacrifices, circumcision, Levitical priesthood, and the death penalty for sin [Romans 8:2]), and ONLY their obedience, to save them, not Jesus. Verse 24 refers to the bondage created by some, not all, of the Mosaic laws given on Mount Sinai. Mainstreamers quote these verses as proof that all the Mosaic laws, especially the dietary, festival, tithing, and Saturday Sabbath laws have been annulled. There is sufficient Biblical evidence, though, that those laws existed well BEFORE the Mosaic law was instituted, showing that those laws are still in force. Read the page ALL 10 COMMANDMENTS WERE IN FORCE BEFORE MOSES. To study these Galatian verses please read the upper one fifth of the page on http://rcg.org/pillar/0402pp-itcom.html. Go also to ucg.org/bible-faq/what- law-referred-galatians-42 to better understand these verses. Another helpful site to visit is yaiy.org/literature/DaysMonths.
Galatians 5:1-3,4: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 …….. if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”
These verses are merely a criticism of law keeping when used as the SOLE AND ONLY MEANS of salvation, totally ignoring the gift of grace and the sacrificial death of Jesus to atone for sins. For an explanation of these verses please also visit ucg.org/booklets/NC/legalism and scroll down to the middle to read the section “Paul condemned perversion of law.
GALATIANS 5:4: “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” — NKJV
Many people mistakenly interpret this verse as 1) evidence law keeping is no longer required for salvation. Taken even more literally, concentrating only on the words in that verse, verse 4, though, can just as easily be interpreted to mean 2) that people who want to rely 100% on law keeping, AND LAW KEEPING ONLY, for justification to be saved, and not also on the grace and atoning sacrifice of Jesus at all, have truly separated themselves from Jesus, making His sacrificial death meaningless. Salvation involves grace with a certain amount of righteous law keeping. The Bible says that repeatedly. Galatians 5:2,3 reminds us again that the main law being discussed is The second, much more reasonable interpretation would also be consistent with the rest of the New Testament which contains over 90 verses telling us to obey many OT laws. To interpret this verse as an excuse to abandon law keeping also does not address the fact that 1) eating some of the forbidden foods will still kill you (if God has released us from the food laws, why has He not made them more harmless?), 2) Isaiah’s 66:17 verse revealing that people who eat the forbidden foods in the future will be killed by the Lord for that offense, 3) Zechariah 14:16-19′s prediction that physical attendance in the future at the Feast of Tabernacles, another Mosaic law, will be compulsory, and 4) that in the distant future mandatory Saturday Sabbath rest and worship will be observed by every person on the earth (Isaiah 56:6,7, 66:22,23), again involving another Mosaic law. If those laws will be in force in the future, it is only common sense and logical that they, as well as some other Mosaic laws, are still valid today. For further study go to http://www.ucg.org/booklet/new-covenant-does-it-abolish-gods-law/jesus-teaching-gods-law/confusion-over-legalism-what-i/.
GALATIANS 5:14: “For the entire Law is fulfilled in one word, in this [commandment], “You will love your neighbor as yourself.’ [Lev 19:18]” — Analytical Literal Translation.
The original Greek word for “fulfilled” is pleroo, Strong’s number 4137, which does not mean to replace, abolish, substitute, or perform for other Christians. It overwhelmingly means to “make replete, level up, be full, perfect, fully preach, complete, or to fill.” Fulfill means to fill to the full in verse 14, to fill full, or fill fuller. Pleroo means basically “to add to,” or “supplement.” Joseph H. Thayer, famous Bible word expert, includes the following words in his definition of pleroo: “to furnish or supply liberally,” “liberally supplied,” “to render full,” “to fill up to the top,” “so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim,” “to make complete in every particular,” and “to render perfect.” Loving your neighbor as yourself truly does complete, add perfection to, and greatly supplements “the entire law.” The same pleroo word was used in Matthew 13:48 in which nets were filled up with fish! Merely loving your neighbor as yourself therefore does not release one from law keeping in general. Verse 14 is another abstract, intellectual observation which does not clearly, beyond reasonable doubt, say that law keeping can be abandoned. What if adjacent neighbors love each other, but they are also single male homosexuals engaging in a type of forbidden sex? Divine laws are needed to guide Christians in the righteous way to live. Those laws need to be obeyed, too.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Unless indicated otherwise, all Biblical quotations are from the New King James Version.